Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sky's Standard Response

I have heard back from Sky regarding my complaint about their stance on the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) Gaza Appeal. Working as I do in the customer services industry I can spot that this is a standard response. However, it is more than the BBC have managed so far.

Dear Stephen

Thank you for your message. John Ryley, Head of Sky News made the
following statement explaining our position on Monday 26 January 2009.

"The conflict in Gaza forms part of one of the most challenging and
contentious stories for any news organisation to cover.

"Our commitment as journalists is to cover all sides of that story with
uncompromising objectivity. We have provided, and we will continue to provide,
extensive coverage from Gaza and from the wider region on the conflict and its
human consequences for people on both sides. Our team is on the ground in the
region and will continue to cover the story in the coming days and weeks.

"The absolute impartiality of our output is fundamental to Sky News and
its journalism. That is why, after very careful consideration, we have concluded
that broadcasting an appeal for Gaza at this time is incompatible with our role
in providing balanced and objective reporting of this continuing situation to
our audiences in the UK and around the world.

"It is important to state that this decision is not a judgement on the
good intentions of the appeal. No one could fail to be touched by the human
suffering on both sides of the conflict, which has been the focus of much of our
own reporting in the region.

"However, the nature of an appeal is that it sets out to provoke a
specific response from the viewer. We don’t believe that broadcasting such an
appeal on Sky News can be combined with the balance and context that impartial
journalism aims to bring to the highly charged and continuing conflict in

"Unlike some other UK broadcasters, Sky News is widely viewed across
the Middle East. In order to continue to serve all our audiences, we must ensure
that our journalists can continue to operate effectively in difficult
conditions. This must remain the first priority for any news

I appreciate that this is not the conclusion you would have liked us to
come to, but nevertheless I hope you will understand why we came to this

Kind regards

Viewer Relations

Three points I have to raise.

Sky say they are against showing the "appeal at this time" but the whole point of the DEC is to respond in prompt time to real emergencies as they occur. There is not later time that the DEC would be acting together to raise money for funds at this time.

Second as with the BBC they hide behind "incompatible with our role in providing balanced and objective reporting of this continuing situation". The situation with Israel and Palestine has been ongoing for years, centuries, even millennia if we want to be accurate about it. The fact that they deem the situation to be continuing also means that things could very easily still get worse for those who are suffering.

Finally "the nature of an appeal is that it sets out to provoke a specific response from the viewer" yeah it is there to play at people heartstrings to dig into their pockets and donate to alleviate suffering. If we pussy foot around people who cause that suffering because they may be offended to see just what collateral damage they have caused how is that helping anyone.

So at least Sky have responded even if with indefensible platitudes. But nothing yet from "MY" (as they like to remind me) BBC.

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